Some Sayre Fire survivors return home

SYLMAR, Calif. For Pete Brown, there's nothing like home sweet home, a home he's been away from for nearly half a year.

"I really do need to be in my home, and even if I get the power turned on, I have to do a cleaning, the full cleaning of the house inside," said Pete Brown.

Brown had to evacuate his home along with hundreds of residents at the Oakridge Mobile Home Park when the Sayre Fire engulfed their Sylmar community in mid-November 2008.

The devastation and the wake of the fire left residents in tears. Nearly 500 homes were totally destroyed. Pete Brown was one of the lucky ones.

"The frustration of being out of the house for six months, you know, I'm still paying my mortgage," said Brown. "So it's just one of the things, you know, trying to find our way back in."

City and county officials made an announcement that the cleanup of toxic debris and the park was complete and residents of the just over 100 homes that survived the fire can finally come back home.

Various returning residents were asked what they were hoping for. What are you hoping for?

"To get back in here before another six months," said resident Vi Zume. "Although I hear that we're going to get back in soon. Hopefully, but there's an awful lot of work to be done before we get in here. The whole place needs cleaning up."

State housing inspectors were out Monday making sure the houses are in good standing. Department of Water and Power crews were out working to restore power to homes. Some residents say they've been told they may have to hold back moving into their home for a week or more, until inspectors can make sure their homes are safe.

"I'm thinking it's going to be another month before we sleep here, but it feels good," said resident Debra Linton. "You know it's a first step forward in a long time. And where we know we have some place to go."

For the residents that are so happy that in just a couple of days, they'll be able to move back into their homes, there are many residents who cannot share in that joy because their homes burned to the ground.

"My sister lived in 120, and her house is gone, so you know, I feel for them," said Linton. "I have empathy."

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